Free Gardening Containers That Help Save the Planet

toilet tanks are environmentally friendly garden containers

Toilet tanks are environmentally friendly garden containers

(Read about more free, almost free, or cheap garden ideas and tips in this post I wrote at http://kgi.org/blog/alina/how-start-your-own-garden-almost-free.)

Want containers for gardening but don’t want to spend a lot of money buying them? What if you could get large, tall, ceramic planters for your garden, absolutely free? You can!

Consider using discarded toilet tanks. They are plentiful, would otherwise end up in the landfill, and already come with their own drainage holes.

It’s a lot easier if they are already detached from the toilet bowl base. Once you get the tank home, you will need to remove the parts inside.

Most newer toilet tank parts use plastic washers to hold them in place, which can easily be removed by hand. But you may need to use a pair of slip-joint pliers to get them started.

underneath toilet tank parts

What you need to remove from underneath the toilet tank

Take off the rubber gasket underneath, which covers the washer holding on the flush valve assembly. Remove that washer and discard the flush valve.

rubber washer under toilet flush valve

Rubber washer under toilet flush valve

Here is a video that shows you how to remove the flush valve assembly with slip-joint pliers.

Use a crescent wrench to loosen the nuts holding the tank bolts (like long screws) in place. Remove the nuts from the bolts, then take the bolts out. You may need to tap them from below.

Take off the fill valve nut (it’s located to the side of the tank) and remove those parts and discard.

Removing the handle is optional. You can leave it in for a bit of whimsy in the garden.

Use a piece of old window screening cut to fit the bottom of the tank. That will cover the holes so your dirt doesn’t all fall through.

Move your tank in place, fill with soil and transplants or seeds, and you’re done. You’ve just saved yourself some money, got a spiffy, space-saving rectangular planter, and saved the environment in the process.


These slip joint pliers will help you remove different sizes of nuts. The jaws adjust so you can grip large or small things with them.

This crescent wrench is a good medium size for most jobs around the house. It will work for most plumbing and fix-it type of jobs you have.

If you don’t already have some spare window screen, here is some fiberglass screening. You can use it for your windows or doors also, or just for your planter boxes. (One of the customer reviews was from a gardener who used this in her planter boxes!) It resists rusting and corrosion and can be cut with just regular scissors.

If you do buy it to use for your window or door screens, measure them first. These rolls come in different widths. This one is 36 inches wide.

6 Responses to Free Gardening Containers That Help Save the Planet

  1. Africanaussie on May 1, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Wow I just found your blog through kitchen gardeners. Great site. I was born in South Africa and traveled the world eventually settling in Australia. Like you I love visiting and exploring the foods around the world.

  2. Strata R Chalup on May 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Congrats on the KGI feature and on your awesome garden blog! Nice idea to use the tanks– I bet kids could have fun decorating them with ceramic paints too, to make them look more like planters! Or use them as a surface to make mosaics.

  3. SJ Gardener on May 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Too cool! You’ve just provided the impetus for me to use that huge aqua-colored 1950s toilet tank that I’ve been meaning to get rid of (it’s been a “decor feature” in an unused patch of garden just for fun). Now I only have to get rid of the toilet bowl…I don’t think I’ll ever be cheap enough to use it as a planter…yet! Thanks for the tip!

    • shiobhvan on April 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm

      why get rid of the toilet bowl? use it as a planter as well.

      • 4alina on April 13, 2013 at 12:06 am

        Yup, you totally can do that.

  4. [...] I added a post to my blog if you want to see how to use toilet tanks as containers for your garden. They already come with drainage holes, they are rectangular, so you can stack them next to each other, saving space.  And they are deep, so you can grow carrots and daikon in them, too.  See using toilet tanks for container gardening [...]

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